I returned to the U.S. on May 25, 2012. I stayed with my brother and his wife in Salem, Oregon until just before Labor Day weekend last year, during the prime summer months. It definitely was a big change from Greater London, but I think it was a perfect place to re-acclimate to the U.S. It's a small-ish town, within a 45 minute drive of Portland, Oregon and all it's Hipster offerings. It's all very civilized - there is a really nice Espresso cafe across from their place, above and a Whole Foods nearby.
This is Indy, who went to the Rainbow Bridge a short time ago. He was my delightful companion while I worked from home during the day.
The Willamette Valley's small towns are full of charming places to visit - like this Carousel museum and workshop, above.
No shortage of craft and bead shops, either!
I re-acclimated quickly to shopping at Target again. Europe may have Hyper-markets, but there's nothing like Target.
My brother took me to the local Sanrio store for my Hello Kitty fix.
We made trips to the Uwajimaya store in Beaverton, a suburb of Portland. One weekend, there was a Taiko drum concert in the parking lot.
Uwajimaya had all the necessary Japanese food products.
I ate plenty of Kimchee Ramen for lunch.
My mother got Indy addicted to Bonito. This bag costs $25. He ate better than humans.
This is Indy with his empty Bonito Bowl. You can see the hungry look in his eyes - he was always on a diet!
We had lots of Teriyaki, and Tacos too.
Bim Bim Bap was another lunch favorite!
We also liked to visit the Vietnamese grocery in Portland. The neighborhood wasn't great, but the quality of the produce is amazing.
Of course, shopping at H Mart, the Korean Superstore, was an absolute requirement. I have never seen so many fermented foods in my life. Their Kimchi selection is THE BEST. Too bad H Mart only has locations in Southern California - no Norcal locations.
My brother didn't believe me when I told him I had colleagues in Seoul who had Kimchi refrigerators. All doubts were put to rest when he saw them for sale at H Mart.
We also hit the sales at the nearby outlet mall, Woodburn Company Stores which is about 30 miles south of Portland and 17 miles north of Salem. 110 stores - not bad.
Finally, on my second to last day in Salem, I got a haircut, color, and highlights. I had a farewell lunch with my brother and his wife at a local Mexican restaurant.
Then, it was off to Silicon Valley in my new Kia Soul over Labor Day Weekend.
And that's how I spent last summer!